The upcoming special exhibitions...


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Listening to Bach's students

Special exhibition from 8 April until 23 September 2018


Johann Sebastian Bach was much in demand as a teacher. Throughout his life he taught gifted young musicians the organ and other keyboard instruments as well as composition. Since Bach’s students often lived in his home, they had a close-up view of his everyday life. What can they tell us today about their teacher? Researchers at the Leipzig Bach Archive have been combing historical archives and libraries throughout Germany in search of previously unknown documents pertaining to Bach since 2002. An ongoing project sponsored by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation has explored the lives of over a hundred of Bach’s private students. Their CVs, letters, applications and references tell us much about Bach’s teaching and reveal things we never knew about his life and works. The exhibition presents some of the project’s most fascinating discoveries and shows the research methods used. Bach’s private students frequently became successful composers in their own right or influenced the musical style of their day, such as composer and music theorist Johann Philipp Kirnberger (illustration). The students’ compositional skills are compared to those of their great teacher by means of several audio clips. Visitors can experience Bach’s teaching methods at an interactive display and try out a clavichord for themselves. But what do a maths doctorate and a surveying instrument used for nautical measurements have to do with Bach’s cantata Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen (‘I will gladly carry the Cross’)? These and many other questions are answered on a fascinating journey of discovery through the exhibition.


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